Friday, April 23, 2010
I'm Continuing my reviews of horror movies that no one else has reviewed yet because of my elite access to these films. There hasn't been a major horror movie release since my last review of The Crazies, so here's the latest:
Nightmare On Elm Street*
It is with great pleasure that I am able to give the most highly anticipated horror movie in recent memory, the remake of Nightmare on Elm Street, an enthusiastic and ebullient review. The wait is over, and it is worth it! Gone are the Henny Youngman one-liners, here is a truly disturbing and dark horror story that is genuinely twisted and crowd pleasing!
The story is more of a re-imagining of the original, much in the same way as the Rob Zombie Halloween franchise. It does, however, hold completely true to the mythology of the original series if not the story being told. That story begins some 15 years earlier when Fred Krueger was a janitor at a local elementary school. He was generally regarded as very very creepy, and odd, but not necessarily evil in anyway (although the students were in fact quite cruel to him, as is evidenced in the scene where someone hangs a blow up doll in the cafeteria with a sign that says "Even this doll wouldn't f*** Freddy Krueger). His father, however, was a despised local politician and Krueger becomes the victim of a smear campaign designed to embarrass his father. Because his locker is decorated with pictures of Dakota Fanning and Natalie Portman from The Professional, and because he is generally creepy with bad skin and a unintelligible lisp (a choice made no doubt by the brilliant actor Jackie Earle Haley) they concoct a child molestation charge against him, exaggerating an event where he helped a girl reach the water fountain. Having done nothing wrong, and generally a decent fellow, he becomes a tragic character when a few of the parents take it to another level unintended by the original conspirators, and set his janitorial closet on fire with him in it.
A simple man with a learning disability, Freddy rocks himself to sleep as the fire envelopes him while singing that creepy children's song that later becomes the recognizable "one-two Freddy's coming for you" theme. But what isn't answered, and I was kind of hoping would be, is why dreams? What was so special about this murder and this person that makes him come back into people's dreams? There was no voodoo curse that makes it so, nor any other legend for that matter. Just that he sings himself to sleep before he burns to death. But I will give the creators a pass because the movie nails it on pretty much everything else.
We then skip ahead 15 years, and the town seems to be a brighter place. In the earlier scenes everything had a gray hue, but now its sunny... ergo, things are better! and we hone in on 6 kids in an English class. These are going to be our protagonists, and yep you guessed it, they are the children of the conspirators who originally made the child molestation case against Krueger. They are your average teenagers in movies like this. There is the wise-ass Chance who is throwing a baseball at the head of the teacher as a prank when he is introduced to us; his stupid blonde girlfriend Claire; Harold, the black guy and his sassy girlfriend Tameeka; and then our heroine Nancy. That makes 5. The 6th character throws a curve ball into the whole traditional teenage slasher flick thing. It is an Inuit woman of about 30 who wears traditional dress and speaks poor English. But she plays Nancy's best friend and live-in exchange student. Her name is Chatook (and to let the obvious cat out of the bag, a dream catcher does play into this). We are introduced to their clan and their doings, some mild tomfoolery, and some general set-up that gets us to know our main characters before we start killing them. But refreshingly the dialogue is witty, the edits are long, and the filming style is interesting (with long shots, first person POV, and other unusual risks not associated with these kind of films).
But then the fun begins. Nancy walks by Freddy Krueger's old house. We don't know its his house, we never saw it in the beginning, but it is the most decrepit house on the block. One can assume that Nancy takes this trip everyday, but this day is different. There is an old man that appears out of nowhere by the mail box as she walks by. She gets startled, and he looks at her with his cataract eyes and says, "He's coming for you", and she says "who is?" and he says "the sins of our fathers...(pause) he's coming for you" and begins to cackle. She then says, "I'm sorry, who is?" and he says, "I'm sorry, what?" and she says "No seriously, you said something to me and i want you to clarify or next time don't say shit to me" and he says, "Sorry Miss" and then he begins to masturbate which does disturb her and this makes her run home.
That night it begins. The first dream just comes across as a scary dream. a really scary dream; perhaps the scariest in the movie. In it she hears a baby crying. The cries are from the other room, so she goes to check it out and when she goes in the hallway it gets long by like a mile. On her way to the cries, which start to sound more like pigs screaming, she passes different room with all sorts of disturbing imagery. And this is what makes this horror movie unlike few in Hollywood. It doesn't just settle on how many startles per minute it can muster, but tries to leave you haunted well beyond your viewing. It cares about mood, ambiance, imagery, tone, etc. She passes one room and there's a giant grasshopper playing the banjo, another room is snowing and two snow men are having homosexual sex, another has LT, Lawrence Taylor, benching 200 pounds of veal, and finally she comes to the room at the end of the hall where the cries are coming from. She goes to the crib and the baby has Freddy Krueger's badly burned face and she looks at him and he says "taco" and then she wakes up screaming.
well, i can't give away every gory detail by describing each nightmare, but everyone is murdered in horrific fashion. And not all with Freddy's patented knife glove. In fact he only wears that for the climactic nightmare, otherwise he mostly kills his victims with a Snub Nose revolver. Otherwise, the story mostly follows the original where Nancy keeps on having these dreams, and they get worse and worse, and her friends meanwhile keep getting hurt or murdered and no one believes any one's story. The thing about this Freddy Krueger as played by Jackie Earle Haley, light years better than Robert Englund (i know that's blasphemy among horror fans, but this guy truly rocks it. Just a better actor, flat and simple) is that he comes off as a real person. Sure, he lives in your dreams, but it amazingly feels like something that could happen. When i was a kid and i saw the original I had trouble sleeping. It truly messed me up. But obviously as I've grown older, scary stuff like that doesn't really phase me anymore and I appreciate it almost entirely on an entertainment level. But this one made me sleep with the bathroom light on. It got me.
Clearly, i recommend The Nightmare On Elm Street remake. It does something that other horror movies aren't doing - it takes its time. A lot of audiences may be turned off by the 3.5 hour run time, but by the time you get to the end you realize how necessary that was to create this horror masterpiece. Every character is completely explored; there is no collateral damage. Every person killed by Freddy we get to know. We spend enough time with each of them that we come to care about it when they get murdered. The film allows the story to be told without the pressure of making a clean, formulaic horror movie. This is a popcorn flick, no doubt, but it does so on its own terms. And word of warning, there is tons of nudity in this flick, done tastefully and artfully. It is all necessary, but if you ever wondered if Freddy's penis also got burned, you will get the answer. And the sex scene between him and Nancy is truly disturbing.
Ok, that's it, i don't want to give anymore away! I am giving too much away already, being the first to opine about this movie that doesn't even open up until Friday, April 30th. Hopefully, this review encourages you to go and see it. And you do need to see it!
* Important note about this review - I HAVE NOT ACTUALLY SEEN THIS MOVIE. SORRY